Crack Cocaine Treatment Options

There are many crack cocaine treatment options. Learn how to tell if someone has an addiction to crack cocaine, what treatment options are available for those using crack cocaine, and withdrawal symptoms one experiences when trying to break the addiction.


People who are addicted to crack cocaine need to get help to overcome their addiction. A variety of treatment options are available to help them.

Crack cocaine addiction is a serious illness. It can involve both a physical dependence on crack and a psychological one. The treatment of crack cocaine addiction requires the addict to overcome their physical and psychological addiction under professional guidance. The best treatment for a person addicted to crack varies by the individual’s personality, situation, and needs.

A person may need treatment for a crack cocaine addiction if he or she:

  • Uses crack frequently
  • Can’t stop using crack
  • Blacks out while using crack
  • Has chest pains, seizures, convulsions, or a stroke or heart attack
  • Hallucinates or develops a mental illness
  • Doesn’t get the same high from crack or needs more crack to get high
  • Is secretive about his or her activities or crack use
  • Can only think about crack, and loses interest in other things or people
  • Engages in risky behavior while on crack, like driving or having unprotected sex
  • Steals or trades sex for crack or for money for crack

A person who is addicted to crack cocaine has several treatment options to choose from.

  • Detoxification, which deals with the physical but not the psychological aspects of crack cocaine addiction
  • Short-term inpatient or residential programs, which often take place in a hospital and are usually based on the Twelve Step approach to drug addiction recovery
  • Long-term residential programs, usually at residential treatment centers, where the patient spends up to a year as part of a program like therapeutic communities where they deal with their drug addiction and often learn life skills to help them adjust better to a drug-free life and society after treatment
  • Outpatient therapy, which involves the patient going to a facility for individual or group counseling - this type of therapy is usually less expensive than inpatient forms of therapy and appropriate for people with jobs and good support networks

Different treatment programs are right for different people and situations. The best treatment program for an individual can change over the course of his or her recovery. Also, good treatment programs address other problems in the patient’s life, like mental illnesses or sexually transmitted diseases. Many of the above treatment programs can be tailored to the needs of special groups, like mothers, those with mental illnesses, or those in prison.

Cocaine treatment programs involve treatment for symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms may not be as obvious as withdrawal from some other drugs, but can include:

  • Long-lasting depression
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness or general feelings of unwellness
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Irritability
  • Hunger
  • Moving slowly
  • Craving crack
  • Suicidal thoughts

It is especially important that treatment deals with depression and other mental illnesses and monitors patients for suicidal thoughts or behavior during withdrawal and therapy.

Crack cocaine treatment also involves therapy to help patients avoid using crack again. Some common types of therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy and the Twelve Step recovery program used by Cocaine Anonymous and some inpatient and outpatient programs. The personality, reasoning skills, and personal beliefs of the patient determine which program he or she will be more comfortable and successful with.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and similar approaches focus on helping a person change negative ways of thinking and acting. It is good for those with strong abstract reasoning skills. Therapy can take place one on one with a therapist, in group sessions, or both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a person to:

  • Stay committed to abstaining from crack
  • Overcome urges to use crack or engage in other negative activities
  • Recognize and deal with negative thoughts
  • Increase positive moods and overcome negative ones

The Twelve Step recovery program used by Cocaine Anonymous focuses on helping individuals through group support. It uses a belief in God or a higher power to help patients recover from crack addiction, but similar programs focus less on the spiritual side of recovery. The Twelve Steps involve:

  • Recognizing you have a problem
  • Reaching out to a higher power for healing and help
  • Making amends for your mistakes

At this time drugs that could be used to help reduce the effects of crack cocaine or the user’s cravings for crack are still being tested. Such drugs would help people who are addicted to crack cocaine overcome their addiction by reducing their physical dependence on the drug while undergoing other treatment and therapy programs.


National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA InfoFacts: Crack and Cocaine [online]

NIDA InfoFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction [online]

Office of National Drug Control Policy, Types of Treatment [online]

Barbara Shine, NIDA Notes, Some Cocaine Abusers Fare Better With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Others With 12-Step Programs [online]

Cocaine Anonymous World Services [online]

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, Cocaine Withdrawal [online]

Related Article: Effects of Crack Cocaine >>